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Beating Back pain: May 1, 2011

Low back pain is the second most common pain complaint at doctor's offices. It can make simple movements extremely challenging. Always on the move, you'd never guess Sandy Hodgson was 65 years old but time has taken its toll on her back with pain that came out of nowhere.

Sandy explains that she couldn't walk and she couldn't get out of bed, she says that it's a good thing her husband retired in January because he took care of her. Desperate for relief she struggled with prolonged, excruciating pain. Sandy also says that it lasted a lot longer than childbirth but the pain was worse.

Treatment for back pain is evolving out of the operating room and into a workout room, using muscle strengthening exercises and minimally invasive therapies. Lee Memorial Health System Interventional Physiatrist, Dr. Reggie Augusthy tells us that the field of interventional pain management has really come to the forefront in the last 10 to 15 years to be able to get patients much more comfortable, much more functional, minimizing the need for medication and of course keep them out of surgery.

Sandy went to the spine institute and learned she had a herniated disk, her pain was due to inflammation caused by fluid from the disk bulging against the cartilage wall. To ease her suffering, Dr. Augusthy used a fluoroscopy, or lo-dose x-ray, to help administer steroid shots by using fluoroscopy we can guide a needle directly to the area of the source of pain, using contrast to make sure doctors are in the right place and then deliver the medication appropriately. The injections calm the inflammation. It worked wonders for Sandy, who is now back in the driver's seat. Although it's not a cure, but to Sandy it was because she could walk again and because Dr. Augusthy was her miracle worker.